Public-sector workers have been working harder and longer to keep Australians safe and meet the unprecedented surge in demand for our public services.
It is beyond dispute that the public sector has delivered for the community through this crisis, whether it is the ATO helping small business access programs to keep their doors open and their employees paid, the CSIRO which completed over a year's worth of work in two months exploring vaccines or Services Australia workers processing unprecedented numbers of JobSeeker claims.
And more recently while we have all been anxiously watching international vaccine trials progress, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is ensuring that any vaccine approved is thoroughly tested and safe for Australians.
We hear from the national cabinet, state leaders and the government that this is a time to pull together, to listen to the expects and health advice.
While Coalition ministers, Labor, the Greens, and the crossbench are singing from the same song book - something rare in peacetime Parliaments - all working together to support the public heath response, it seems backbenchers are immune from the national effort.
Instead of supporting the community response to COVID-19, the Liberal Member for Hughes Craig Kelly is trying to bully public sector workers apparently for the sole purpose of increasing his Facebook likes.
Over the last few months Mr Kelly has continually undermined the national public health response, choosing instead to advocate snake oil remedies and QAnon conspiracies.
Unfortunately, this is not new behaviour for Mr Kelly. It is just part of his unhealthy ideological war on the public sector - but this time he is playing with lives.
You may remember Mr Kelly's attacks on the Bureau of Meteorology after the devastating fires last year, and his attacks on the CSIRO's important work on climate change. Or his wild assertions the ABC has been infiltrated by socialists and the Chinese government.
But the consequences of Mr Kelly's current attack on public health and public health officials are even more troubling.
Early polling suggests as many as one in four Australians are uncertain about getting the COVID vaccine. A successful vaccination strategy is all based on the numbers and if such a significant proportion of the population refused vaccination it would undermine the whole vaccination effort.
Instead of helping allay fears and pointing the public in the direction of official health information, Mr Kelly is spreading misinformation about COVID treatments and promoting anti-vaxxers.
Let's make no mistake, Mr Kelly's claims are as serious as they are dangerous for two reasons.
Firstly, they spread fake news and dangerous "alternatives" to health and science-informed responses. And, secondly, they undermine trust in Australia's essential public services and institutions which have never been more important or working harder for all of us.
By continuing to cast doubt on the role and ethics of public institutions he undermines the role of government services and trust and in our lives.
As a nation we rely on institutions like the BOM, CSIRO, and the TGA to develop the research and policy we need to inform our government's response to international issues and national priorities.
Our public service workers are the best in our nation, working to improve our nation's chances of success. Whether it be tackling climate change or drought, approving new drugs to help cancer patients, or predicting dangerous weather to help SES respond.
When Mr Kelly erroneously questions organisations on issues he thinks are good social media fodder he does a disservice to the important work our public sector does. And in turn the public trust for their work.
Craig Kelly is trading in cheap political points to build his social media following.
While Mr Kelly can cry freedom of speech, he cannot ignore the clear responsibility he has in the middle of a global pandemic to ensure his constituency and the community have correct and up-to-date medical advice from reputable government sources.
Experts, not just politicians, have warned misinformation could harm the rollout of our national vaccine strategy, affecting the take-up of vaccines and leaving vulnerable parts of our community unprotected.
Instead of stepping up to the challenge and defending the vaccination strategy and our public institutions implementing it, the prime minister has, once again, gone missing in action.
He has variously offered support for the Member for Hughes, refused to publicly condemn Mr Kelly's actions and then belatedly, and privately, called him in for a "dressing down". All the while Mr Kelly's Facebook-popular posts remain online for all to see.
It is the lack of leadership from the prime minister that is the most disappointing - that he allows his backbench to spread misinformation and undermine confidence in public institutions such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Mr Morrison must do more than have a private conversation and note that he and Mr Kelly have different views in public. He must publicly call out this behaviour and call it for what it is. He must denounce the comments and call on Australians to ignore Mr Kelly's attention seeking behaviour.
More astounding than this, because of Scott Morrison's leadership deficit, senior public servants are having to waste their time trying to stop Mr Kelly's destructive behaviour when there are clearly more important tasks to do.
Good leaders do not follow or fear the loudest voice in the room, they do what is right and best for all. Good leaders stand up and protect public institutions in private and in public.
The prime minister should have the courage to do what Tanya Plibersek did last week - call out Mr Kelly's dangerous conspiracy theories for what they are in public, and back our public institutions that are working overtime for all of us.
- Melissa is the national secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union.